Science-wise: Winds of Change in Indian Ocean as Rapid Warming Sparks Stronger Cyclones; Are We Ready?


Over four years ago, on November 28, when meteorologists detected a low-pressure system forming over the southwest Bay of Bengal, they initiated their four-stage action plan and released an advisory. But even before the weather department could issue a cyclone watch warning, the system quickly intensified from a ‘deep depression’ into a cyclonic storm and unleashed its fury on the coastal districts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the Lakshadweep Islands.

Clearly, Cyclone Ockhi was an unusual phenomenon. Unlike any other cyclone before, it did not just rapidly intensify but also left the scientists bewildered with its long gestation period. It developed in the sea for 6.7 days, much longer than the average life of 4.7 days observed for ‘very severe cyclonic storms’ that had occurred over the north Indian Ocean (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) until 2017. And, both these peculiarities put the scientists on alert of what was likely in the near future.

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Cyclone Asani To Form Over Bay of Bengal on March 21; Andaman & Nicobar on High Alert

This year’s first cyclone, Asani, is likely to form over the central Bay of Bengal on March 21. It is unlikely to cross the Indian coast but heavy rain and strong winds are expected over Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that the year’s first cyclone, Asani, is likely to form over the central Bay of Bengal on March 21. Though the cyclone is unlikely to cross the Indian coast, heavy rain and strong winds are expected over Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It will move towards Bangladesh and Myanmar after hitting Andaman.Also Read - Depression Forms Over Bay Of Bengal, IMD Issues Weather Warning For Tamil Nadu


According to IMD’s rainfall warning, scattered to fairly widespread rainfall is very likely over Andaman & Nicobar Islands during March 16- 20. While isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall can be observed over the Nicobar Islands on March 19 with extremely heavy rainfall over the Islands on March 20. Also Read - Cyclone Gulab Could Re-born as Cyclone Shaheen Over Bay of Bengal in 2-3 Days, Predicts IMD

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Avoid travel to this 'very high' risk Indian Ocean island

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added just one new destination to its highest-risk category for travel on Monday -- and it's again an Indian Ocean island nation.

Moved up to Level 4 is Madagascar. Off the southeastern coast of Africa, it's known for its unique wildlife, including lemurs, and for being the world's fourth-largest island.

Last week, the much smaller Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius was the only destination added to Level 4. It remained at Level 4 this week, too.

The CDC places a destination at "Level 4: Covid-19 Very High" risk when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days.

Madagascar resided at "Level 3: Covid-19 High" risk last week.

There are now about 120 destinations at Level 4. While the number of places in the "very high" risk category has been dropping since peaking around 140 in February, there are still more places in the Level 4 category than in all the other categories combined.

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Climate change: New ocean critter discovered helping to catch carbon.

Scientists have discovered a new "secret weapon" in the battle against climate change hidden within our oceans.

The creature - a single-celled microbe - can naturally capture and store carbon.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia, say it could be used to help balance carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

"This is an entirely new species, never before described in this amount of detail," said Professor Martina Doblin, the study's senior author.

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IMD predicts low pressure system over Bay of Bengal to intensify into Cyclone Asani today

The low-pressure system brewing in South East Bay of Bengal and the adjoining Andaman Sea is likely to intensify into a depression yesterday (March 20) and lead to the first cyclone in March since 2000 in the North Indian Ocean region on Monday. And if that happens, the cyclonic storm will be called Asani, the name given by Sri Lanka.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the system is predicted to move north-eastwards and reach near the north Myanmar and southeast Bangladesh coasts on March 22.  The IMD has also predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in a few places over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with isolated extremely heavy rainfall likely over the Nicobar Islands.

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Once Extreme Ocean Temperatures Are the New Normal

A new analysis finds extreme warming events in the ocean have increased relative to the very far past, with nearly 60% of the ocean experiencing extreme heat in 2019.

Extreme marine temperatures that were once considered rare have officially become the norm for the majority of the world’s ocean. According to a new study, more than half the marine surface is now regularly subjected to extreme heat. These abnormally high temperatures can have far-reaching negative effects on marine animals as well as the local economies that depend on them.

“We need to realize that climate change is happening as we speak.…It has also been happening for quite some time,” said study coauthor Kisei Tanaka, a marine ecologist at NOAA.

Prior to his position at NOAA, Tanaka was a research data scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. While he was there, he and Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the aquarium at the time, noticed some unusual changes happening in the bay. Kelp forests were disappearing, and marine species whose normal habitat was the warmer waters of Southern California were starting to appear farther north.

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